Marijuana Legalization, the New Lotto Powerball?

Can we talk about the lotto for a sec?  The Powerball lottery, sold in 44 states, has hit $1.5 billion.  With a ‘B.’  The odds of getting the first five numbers correct to take home that mega prize are about 1 in 17 million.

But we still play.

That slim chance of striking it rich makes the couple of bucks for a ticket seem a worthy investment.  Offices, hair salons, auto shops, coffee shops or pretty much any consortium of friendly faces might have a lottery pool going too.  It’s become acceptable good fun and few would argue that anyone getting in on the action casually has developed a gambling problem.  Plus, all the proceeds go to fund public works initiatives like education.  So, even when we’re not winning – or even playing for that matter – the lotto’s existence is an economic win-win.  Agree?  For the most part, right?

Sweet.  Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

See, marijuana dispensaries are opening shop across the nation legally.  Some are strictly for medicinal use, some recreational.  Some have been met with an outcry of support.  Some with rage and federal red tape.  All, in some way, shape or form are generating tax revenue that states are able to reinvest into awareness, responsible use and education.

This sounds an awful lot like another tax generating tool that, long ago, stirred up a lot of controversy too.  Don’t ya’ think?

So, we’re just throwing this out there to nosh on.  As usual, would looooove to hear your thoughts.

Three ways Marijuana Legalization is like the Lottery:

  1. You don’t need to play to appreciate the benefits.  Live in a region that plays host to a lottery or marijuana dispensary?  Whether you buy a lotto ticket – or not – or purchase weed – or not, your community will benefit from the tax dollars generated.
  2. Responsible use is still top of mind.  The lottery does not promote gambling any more than a local marijuana dispensary promotes getting high.  A patron of either is trusted, and ideally encouraged, to use responsibly.  In the majority of marijuana dispensaries, particularly those for recreational use, there are strict limits in place for consumers.
  3. It helps local business owners.  Marijuana is a burgeoning industry, which has meant the creation of jobs, jobs and more jobs.  Similarly, tell me the liquor store owner with the line around the block for powerball tickets isn’t smiling.  You know he is.  It’s good for biz.

Colorado was first to welcome marijuana as a legitimate and non-dodgy economic resource.  Residents there are welcome to partake in an occasional toke and access cannabis to treat illness.  Or, they can chose not to condone weed altogether.  Either way, their home state  benefited from nearly $70 million in marijuana taxes this past fiscal year, Time has reported.  That’s “nearly double the $42 million collected from alcohol taxes.”

What does it all really mean?  Maybe 20 years from now someone will be comparing a new social and economic issue to a time when marijuana used to be illegal.  Maybe marijuana dispensaries will be like liquor stores.  Maybe even selling lotto tickets.  (You’d buy there, wouldn’t you?).  As Zen Master says, we’ll see.